San Francisco-based startup Framework created a sleek, lightweight, productivity laptop you can upgrade, customize and repair yourself. It sounds like the ultimate tinkerer's laptop, and more importantly, it addresses something that has been missing in the laptop market: the ability to upgrade or repair your machine yourself.
Nirav Patel, a former Oculus employee who gained experience while working at Apple, is the founder of Framework. In a recent interview with The Verge, Patel said he "saw an industry that felt incredibly broken across the board."
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The Framework laptop will arrive with a 13.5-inch, 2256 x 1504-pixel screen, a 1080p, 60 fps webcam, a 55Wh battery, and a 2.87-pound aluminum chassis. Inside, you’ll get 11th Gen Intel processors, up to 64GB of DDR4 memory, and “4TB or more” of Gen 4 NVMe storage.
However, what will differ from other devices on the market is the ability to easily upgrade several of the internals by swapping out and upgrading the RAM, battery, and storage. Furthermore, you can customize and upgrade the chassis' external components, including the keyboard, screen, bezels (which attach magnetically), and ports (via expansion card system). If you hate dongles and docks, you will be able to select four ports from a list that includes USB-C, USB-A, HDMI, DisplayPort, microSD, and others.
Framework will be selling its own swappable modules. The company will use an online marketplace that will also be open to third-party sellers and resellers. The idea is that, if your screen cracks or you feel like changing your bezels, you can go to Framework’s site and purchase replacements that are made specifically for your laptop rather than having to search endlessly for quality replacement parts.
Framework will also be printing QR codes on components that, when scanned, will bring consumers straight to a purchase page for their upgrades or replacement parts.
Finally, you can purchase a pre-built unit or a Framework DYI kit filled with your selected parts, which you can then use to assemble the laptop yourself. The DIY option gives consumers some operating system flexibility as you can choose to install Windows 10 or a Linux variant of your choosing.
Framework isn't the first computer company to think of this concept. Intel recently introduced the M15 NUC laptop kit, and others like Google have tried similar ideas with its Lego-like modular cell phone. However, Patel feels that others have never been committed to the process.
"This is not something we’re dabbling in," Patel said. "It’s not a side project for us that someone thought was interesting. This is the core of our company. We are releasing new modules, and upgrades, and accessories, and so on to drive the health of the ecosystem, and we’re going to continue doing that for as long as customers want us to,"
Framework will start taking orders for the new Framework Laptop this spring.